Monday 21 August 2017

Leinster look to close in on play-off home comforts by beating Scots

'Rob Kearney’s latest comeback after a season plagued by hamstring injuries is a welcome boon for both Leinster and Ireland' Photo: Sportsfile
'Rob Kearney’s latest comeback after a season plagued by hamstring injuries is a welcome boon for both Leinster and Ireland' Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

For all the gnashing of teeth in some quarters about Leinster's team selection for tonight's Pro12 clash with Edinburgh, they still have 11 internationals in their XV, with six more on the bench.

Their strength in depth should be more than adequate against a Scottish outfit who, although they have betrayed some signs of developing an expansive game-plan, still retain many of the rudimentary hallmarks of any Alan Solomons side

The Scots did win the reverse fixture but that was on the opening weekend of the campaign when Leinster were without their World Cup stars.

Even without Johnny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip tonight, Leinster should be capable of a comfortable win and, if they can construct a coherent attack for more sustained periods than of late, a five-point bonus could also accrue as they seek to copperfasten a home semi-final in the play-offs.

Rob Kearney's latest comeback after a season plagued by hamstring injuries is a welcome boon for both Leinster and Ireland. And Luke Fitzgerald also returns after limping from the fray in the defeat to Connacht.

Whopping

However, Sean O'Brien's return remains postponed for another fortnight at least as Cullen makes a whopping 12 changes to the side that defeated Munster.

Edinburgh are tussling for a Champions Cup place with Munster, who they face in a fortnight's time and, after the 29-0 thrashing of Zebre last time out, they make four changes, including the return of openside John Hardie.

Edinburgh's only defeat in the last four rounds of the Pro12 was 23-28 at home to Connacht on 4 March. They won their most recent away game at Dragons but have not won successive fixtures on their travels for over 12 months and have only once before achieved a Pro12 season's double over Leinster - in 2003/04.

Their most recent victory on Leinster's soil came at Donnybrook in November 2005.

"They have a strong set piece, based on that international front-row that has gone very well for Scotland," said Cullen. "

"They are dangerous on turnover because they have a lot of pace across the backline, especially with Damien Hoyland."

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster - R Kearney; F McFadden, B Te'o, N Reid, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, L McGrath; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross; R Molony, M Kearney; R Ruddock, J Van der Flier, J Murphy. Reps: S Cronin, P Dooley, T Furlong, D Toner, D Ryan, E Reddan, C Marsh, D Kearney.
Edinburgh - B Kinghorn; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown; J Tovey, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford (capt), WP Nel; A Bresler, B Toolis; J Ritchie, J Hardie, C Du Preez. Reps: S McInally, R Sutherland, J Andress, A Toolis, M Bradbury, H Watson, S Kennedy, M Allan.
Ref - M Mitrea (FIR)

Leinster v Edinburgh,

Live, TG4, 7.35

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